John Legend is a veteran at the Grammy awards. He’s taken home 12 awards and he’s been nominated on 33 occasions throughout his career. This year, Legend wasn’t nominated in any categories, but it hasn’t been too long since he was nominated at the show. In 2020 and 2021, he won in the Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best R&B Album categories respectively, and in 2019, he was nominated in the Best Musical Theater Album category. While Legend won’t leave with a trophy this year, he did make an appearance at this year’s Grammys, and with it came a Ukrainian tribute performance of his new song “Free.”
The track is one that Legend just released today, and it sees him pleading for freedom and an unrestricted life backed by the soft presence of the piano, stirring strings, and a powerful choir. His performance was introduced by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the current president of Ukraine, who gave a speech about the country’s ongoing war with Russia. Legend was also accompanied by Ukrainian singer Mika Newtown and Ukrainian poet Lyuba Yakimchuk for the performance.
Prior to his appearance at the Grammys, Legend became the latest artist to sell their music catalog. According to Bloomberg, Legend sold his copyrights and rights to royalties of his catalog to KKR & Co. and BMG, with each company getting a 50-percent stake. It was not revealed how much Legend made from the deal.
You can watch the Legend’s performance of “Free” and listen to Zelenskyy’s speech in the videos above.